Method and apparatus for conveying unique visual communication

An apparatus and related method for conveying information associated with containers. The apparatus comprises a container supporting modification means which when selectively altered effectively changes the appearance of the container such that a unique visual communication is produced. The related method comprises selectively altering the modification means supported by the container thereby providing a unique visual communication.

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Description

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/084,912, filed Mar. 21, 2005, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,617,622, which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/429,504, filed May 5, 2003, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,868,627, which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/814,191, filed Mar. 21, 2001, now abandoned which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/448,228, filed Nov. 24, 1999, now abandoned which claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/109,948, filed Nov. 25, 1998, all of which are expressly incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to containers and container labels, and more particularly, to containers and container labels which can be conveniently modified to provide simple and effective ways for users to visually personalize, distinguish, mark or communicate information via the containers themselves, or their associated labels.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Typical construction and labeling of containers does not provide means for visually communicating unique or identifying information. Users of a container often have the need to visually distinguish their container from another of the same brand and name, for example, to prevent accidental consumption of a beverage by someone other than the user of a container, or to indicate the owner of a container to avoid misidentification; to record information regarding the contents of the container, for example date of purchase, date container was first opened, volume of the container's contents consumed or remaining, amount of solute or solvent in the container; and to effect other visual signals, for example to indicate to a bar tender or server that the container is empty or near empty and another full container having the same contents is desired.

Traditional means used to visually personalize, distinguish, mark or communicate information via a container or its associated label involve the permanent physical marking or destruction of the container label. This way of communicating is both inconvenient and inconsistent, as a device for marking the container is required and uniformity of marking location is non-existent. Alternate means, as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,704,144 to Groth and U.S. Design Pat. No. 412,938 to Kesselring et al., require the affixation of an identification tag to the container. Such traditional marking means are typically expensive and do not permit convenient customization by the end user.

Accordingly, there remains a need for a method and apparatus for effecting easy visual communication by modifying the appearance of a container or container label.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A container in accordance with an illustrative embodiment of the present invention includes a substantially cylindrical wall of sheet material. Opposing upper end and lower end walls are connected to opposite ends of the cylindrical wall. A tab is rotatably and pivotally attached at a connection point proximate to the center of the upper end wall. The upper end wall includes a tear portion, the tab being configured to pivot and engage the tear portion to define an opening within the upper end wall. The opening is positioned intermediate the connection point and the side wall and includes an axis intersecting the connection point. A plurality of signals, or visual indicia, illustratively comprised of letters, numbers, words, names, symbols or other graphic representations are disposed in a series and radially outwardly from the connection point of the tab. The visual indicia are circumferentially aligned along a path of rotation of the tab.

The visual indicia may be imprinted on the container with ink or other marking means, or alternatively, die cut or embossed into the container during manufacture. The tab supports an indicator selectively moveable into alignment with the series of visual indicia. More particularly, when the tab is rotated, the indicator moves circumferentially across the upper end wall of the container. As the tab is rotated, the indicator may be selectively positioned in alignment with one of the visual indicia located on the container. The positioning of the indicator in alignment with one of the visual indicia provides a signal or unique visual communication.

A further illustrative embodiment of the present invention comprises a container as described above, wherein the tab is pivotally moved into substantial perpendicular disposition with the upper end wall of the can container. This movement is effected by manually pulling an outer edge of the tab upwardly away from the upper end wall of the can into the aforementioned substantial perpendicular disposition. The resultant positioning of the tab effects a unique visual communication. This communication may effect an order signal to a bar tender or server that the container is empty or near empty and that another full container having the same or similar contents is desired.

In a related illustrative embodiment, the tab is modified or shaped to include visual indicia which further emphasizes the order signal to a bar tender or server that the container is empty or near empty and that another full container having the same contents is desired. The visual indicia on the tab may consist of a mark, shape, incising, imprint, color, depression, cut, mold, impression, etc. visually forming a symbol, number, letter, word, name, graphic, or other visual cue. In a further illustrative embodiment, the modification or shaping of the tab is accomplished by modifying or shaping the underside of the tab only, such that the signal effected by the tab is only visible when the tab is upwardly extended away from the upper end wall of the container.

A further illustrative embodiment of the present invention comprises a container label formed from a material sheet. A first plurality of visual indicia are disposed in a series along a portion of the material sheet. The first plurality of visual indicia are individually covered with substantially opaque non-water soluble scratch-off layers. A second plurality of visual indicia visually distinguishable from the first plurality of visual indicia are overprinted atop the respective scratch-off layers. In an alternative embodiment, the second plurality of visual indicia may be printed aside each of the scratch-off layers. When a user of the label scratches off one or more of the scratch-off layers, a unique visual communication is provided.

Another embodiment of a container label in accordance with this invention is formed from a material sheet having a plurality of fingers along one or more of the material sheet's outer edges. The fingers are detachable from the material sheet by tearing them away along points of attachment. The points of attachment are preferably score lines for weakening the fingers for removal from the material sheet. Alternatively, the points of attachment may comprise a thinned wall or perforated line to weaken the fingers for removal from the material sheet. Additionally, the adhesive attaching the label to its container may be applied minimally, or not at all, to the fingers to thus weaken the fingers for removal from the material sheet. Associated with the fingers are a series of visual indicia comprised of letters, numbers, words, names, symbols or other graphic representation illustratively aligned in parallel with said fingers. When a user of the container label removes one or more of the fingers, a unique visual communication is provided.

Therefore, it is an object of the invention to provide an apparatus associated with a container for providing a unique visual communication.

It is an additional object of the invention to provide such an apparatus which may be readily modified by the end user to effectively change the appearance thereof.

It is a further object of the invention to provide such an apparatus which may be readily modified by the end user to visually distinguish the container from other like containers.

It is an additional object of the invention to provide such an apparatus which may be readily modified by the end user to record information regarding the contents of the container, including date of purchase, date the container was first opened, volume of the containers contents either consumed or remaining, or concentration of a solute or solvent contained within the container.

It is a further object of the invention to provide such an apparatus which may be readily modified by the end user to signal a bar tender or server that the container is empty or near empty and another full container having the same contents is desired.

Other objects and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following description, accompanying drawings and appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a conventional easy opening can container;

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of an easy opening can container in accordance with an illustrative embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a top plan view of an easy opening can container demonstrating an alternative embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a further illustrative embodiment of an easy opening can container in accordance with the present invention, illustrating the upper surface of the tab pivotally moved into substantially perpendicular disposition with the upper end wall;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of another illustrative embodiment of an easy opening can container in accordance with the present invention, illustrating the lower surface of the tab pivotally moved into substantially perpendicular disposition with the upper end wall;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of another illustrative embodiment of an easy opening can container in accordance with the present invention, illustrating visual indicia supported by the tab and comprising the shape of a hand;

FIG. 7 is a side elevational view of a container label in accordance with a further illustrative embodiment of the present invention as applied to a conventional bottle;

FIG. 8 is a top plan view of an alternative embodiment of the container label of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is an enlarged view of an illustrative embodiment of the container label of the present invention demonstrating a post scratch-off state;

FIG. 10 is an enlarged view of an alternate embodiment of a container label in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 11 shows another embodiment of a container label of this invention having a plurality of fingers; and

FIG. 12 shows a detailed view of FIG. 11.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates an easy opening container 1 similar in type to that disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,730,379 to Brown which is expressly incorporated herein by reference. While an easy opening container 1 is used in the following description, it is to be understood that this is for illustrative purposes only and in no way limits the scope of the invention. The container 1 includes a substantially cylindrical side wall 2 preferably formed of sheet material. Upper and lower end walls 3a and 3b are preferably formed from sheet material and connected to opposing ends of the side wall 2.

Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 2, a tab 4 is rotatably and pivotally attached at a connection point 5 proximate to the center of the upper end wall 3a. The upper end wall 3a includes a tear portion 3c which is configured to be engaged by, and pivoted downwardly by, the tab 4 to define an opening 3d. The opening 3d is illustratively positioned intermediate the connection point 5 and the side wall 2 and includes an axis 3e intersecting the connection point. The rotatable tab 4 has an indicator 6a preferably comprised of a narrow linear depression formed in the rotatable tab 4 proximate to the end thereof. The indicator 6a may comprise a mark, shape, depression, cut, notch, mold, bend, aperture or other formable indicator, but is not limited thereto.

A plurality of signals or visual indicia 7a-7j are illustratively die cut or embossed into the upper end wall 3a. Alternatively, the plurality of visual indicia 7a-7j may be imprinted on the upper end wall 3a with ink or other marking means. Each of the plurality of visual indicia 7a-7j is illustratively comprised of a unique graphical image. Illustratively, the visual indicia 7a-7j comprise a plurality of visually appealing symbols. The visual indicia 7a-7j include identification indicia 7a-7i configured to provide an identification signal conveying identification information, and an order or request indicia 7j configured to provide an order signal conveying the desire for more beverage. It should be appreciated that any unique visual indicia, such as letters, numbers, words, names, or symbols or other graphic representation may be utilized. The plurality of visual indicia 7a-7j are illustratively disposed in a series on the upper end wall 3a radially outwardly from the connection point 5 of the rotatable tab 4. The plurality of visual indicia 7a-7j are circumferentially spaced and substantially radially aligned with a path of rotation 8 of the indicator 6a. Each of the identification indicia 7a-7i (but not the request indicia 7j) is illustratively equally radially spaced along the arc. The request indicia 7j is perceptually distinct, and illustratively visually distinguished, from the plurality of identification indicia 7a-7i. More particularly, the request indicia 7j is illustratively positioned in spaced relation to the remaining visual indicia 7a-7i to be readily identifiable and spatially distinguished therefrom.

Referring further to FIGS. 1 and 2, when the rotatable tab 4 is rotated by a user of the container 1, the rotatable tab 4 moves the indicator 6a circumferentially along the path of rotation 8 above the upper end wall 3a of the container 1. As the rotatable tab 4 is rotated, the indicator 6a of the rotatable tab 4 may be selectively positioned in alignment with any one of the plurality of visual indicia 7a-7j located on the upper end wall 3a of the container. The positioning of the indicator 6a in alignment with any one of the plurality of visual indicia 7a-7j provides a unique visual communication.

In operation, the illustrative embodiment of the present invention may operate to identify or distinguish the appearance of the container I from other like containers, so as to indicate ownership (i.e., identification signal). It may also signal the user's desire for another container I having the same contents to an attending bar tender or server (i.e., order signal).

More particularly, alignment of the indicator 6a of the tab 4 with the request indicia 7j signals to others that another beverage container 1 is desired. As such, the request indicia 7j may comprise any indicia or symbol facilitating the conveyance of such a request, such as the words “MORE BEER” or the graphical representation of a beer mug. A beverage consumer initially opens the container in a conventional manner by pivoting an outer edge 10 of the tab 4, proximate the indicator 6a, upwardly so that the tab 4 forces the tear portion 3c of the upper end wall 3a downwardly to create the opening 3d. In a conventional manner, the tab 4 is then pivoted downwardly to a position substantially parallel to the upper end wall 3a. After consuming most or all of the beverage from within the container 1, the user rotates the tab 4 from a first position substantially parallel to the axis 3e and substantially intermediate the opening 3d and the side wall 2, to a second position angularly offset from the first position and aligned with the request indicia 7j which is spatially offset from identification indicia 7a-7i.

Alternatively, the visual indicia 7a-7j as aligned with the indicator 6a may operate to convey information pertaining to the contents of the container, for example, the date of purchase, the date the container was first opened, the volume of the contents of the container either consumed or remaining, or the concentration of a solute or solvent contained within the container. However, it should be appreciated that the selected visual indicia may be used to convey any other communication, for example, “I Love You”, “Interested”, “Not Interested”, “Finished”, etc.

Referring now to FIG. 3, a further illustrative embodiment of the invention with an alternate indicator 6b is displayed. The alternate indicator 6b comprises an aperture 9 formed within the tab 4. The aperture 9 is selectively movable into alignment with one of the plurality of visual indicia 7a-7j for providing a unique visual communication. More particularly, the selected visual indicia (7c as shown in FIG. 3) is visible through the aperture formed within the tab 4. In this further illustrative embodiment, the unique visual communication may operate to convey any of the aforementioned communications of the earlier described embodiment.

Turning now to FIGS. 4 and 5, easy opening can container 1 is illustrated as having an alternative embodiment tab 4′. The tab 4′ as illustrated has been pivoted into substantial perpendicular disposition with the upper end wall 3a of the can container 1. This movement is effected by manually pulling the outer edge 10 of the tab 4′ upwardly away from the upper end wall 3a of the container 1. The resultant positioning of the tab 4′ effects a unique visual communication. This communication may effect an order signal to a bar tender or server that the container 1 is empty or near empty and that another, or second, full container having the same contents is desired.

In the illustrative embodiment, an upper surface 12 of the tab 4′ is further modified or shaped to support at least one visual indicia 14 which further emphasizes the order signal to a bar tender or server that the container 1 is empty or near empty and that another, or second, full container having the same contents is desired. The visual indicia 14 may consist of a mark, shape, incising, imprint, color, depression, cut, mold, impression, etc. visually forming a symbol, number, letter, word, name, graphic, or other visual cue. Examples of the visual indicia 14 include a full beer mug (as shown in FIG. 4), a full glass, the words “MORE DRINK”, a racing-style finish flag, a “thumbs up” graphic, a “hand up” shape or image, a traffic signal showing a green light, a colored flag, a container image shaped similarly to the actual full size container, a unique color, etc. These examples of visual indicia are provided for illustrative purposes only and should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention.

The aforementioned “hand up” image is illustrated in greater detail in FIG. 6 wherein the tab 4″ is shaped in the form of a person's hand including a plurality of parallel disposed fingers 18. At least one of the fingers 18 may serve as the indicator 6a identified above when the tab 4″ is positioned in substantially parallel relation to the upper end wall 3a of the container 1. When the tab 4″ is moved upwardly away from the upper end wall 3a into substantially perpendicular relation thereto, the fingers 18 serve to provide a unique visual communication to a server or other individual. More particularly, the fingers 18 in such an upright position signal that the container 1 requires replacement.

Referring further to FIG. 5, a further illustrative embodiment of the invention is shown wherein the visual indicia 15 resulting from the modification or shaping of the tab 4 is supported on the lower surface 16 of the tab 4. As such, the signal effected by the indicia 15 of tab 4 is only viewable when the tab 4 is placed into substantially perpendicular disposition with the upper end wall 3a of the can container 1.

Turning now to FIG. 7, a further illustrative embodiment of the present invention is illustrated as comprising a container label formed from a material sheet 110 which may be affixed to any conventional container. A first plurality of visual indicia 111a-111g (111b and 111d are shown in FIG. 7) preferably comprised of unique graphical images are positioned in series along a portion of the material sheet 110. Illustratively, the visual indicia 111a-111g comprise a plurality of visually appealing symbols, including a request symbol 111h signaling the desire for more beverage. Alternatively, the first plurality of visual indicia 111a-111g may comprise letters, numbers, words, names, symbols or other graphic representation.

A plurality of substantially opaque non water soluble scratch-off layers 112a-112g (112a, 112c, 112e, 112f and 112g are shown in FIG. 7) are disposed atop the first plurality of visual indicia 111a-111g. The first plurality of visual indicia 111a-111g are individually covered with the scratch-off layers 112a-112g. A second plurality of visual indicia 113a-113g (113a, 113c, 113e, 113f, and 113g are shown in FIG. 8) which are visually distinguishable from the first plurality of visual indicia 111a-111g are printed atop each of the respective scratch-off layers 112a-112g.

When one or more scratch-off layers 112a-112g are removed by a user of the container label, one or more of the first plurality of visual indicia 111a-111g are displayed. The displayed first plurality of visual indicia 111a-111g are visually distinguishable from the second plurality of visual indicia 113a-113g. For example, the first plurality of visual indicia 111a-111g indicia may have a color different from the second plurality of visual indicia 113a-113g. The distinction between the first plurality of visual indicia 111a-111g and the second plurality of visual indicia 113a-113g provides a unique visual communication.

FIG. 8 shows an alternative embodiment of the container label. A first plurality of visual indicia 111a′-111z′ and 111a″-111z″ (111b′ and 111e″ are shown in FIG. 8) preferably comprised of one or more rows of the 26 letters of the alphabet are positioned in series along a portion of the material sheet 110′. The visual indicia may also comprise a request symbol 111aa, such as the phrase “more beer” signaling the desire for more beverage. Alternatively, the first plurality of visual indicia 111a′-111z′ and 111a′-111z″ may comprise letters, numbers, words, names, symbols or other graphic representation. It may be appreciated that one of the first plurality of visual indicia 111a′-111z′ and 111a″-111z″ may comprise a signal identifying the user of the container as the winner of a contest.

A plurality of substantially opaque non water soluble scratch-off layers 112a′-112z′ and 112a″-112z″ (all but 112b′ and 112e″ are shown in FIG. 8) are disposed atop the first plurality of visual indicia 111a′-111z′ and 111a″-111z″. The first plurality of visual indicia 111a′-111z′ and 111a″-111z″ are individually covered with the scratch-off layers 112a′-112z′ and 112a″-112z″. A second plurality of visual indicia 113a′-113z′ and 113a″-113z″ (all but 113b′ and 113e″ are shown in FIG. 8) which are visually distinguishable from the first plurality of visual indicia 111a′-111z′ and 111a″-111z″ are printed atop each of the respective scratch-off layers 112a′-112z′ and 112a″-112z″.

When one or more scratch-off layers 112a′-112z′ and 112a″-112z″ are removed by a user of the container label, one or more of the first plurality of visual indicia 111a′-111z′ and 111a″-111z″ are displayed. The displayed first plurality of visual indicia 111a′-111z′ and 111a″-111z″ are visually distinguishable from the second plurality of visual indicia 113a′-113z′ and 113a″-113z″. The distinction between the first plurality of visual indicia 111a′-111z′ and the second plurality of visual indicia 113a′-113z′ and 113a″-113z″ provides a unique visual communication.

In this alternate embodiment, the unique visual communication may operate to convey the first letter of the given name (i.e., first name) and the surname (i.e., last name) of the user of the container, thus distinguishing the container from other like containers, or it may signal the user's desire for another container having the same contents to an attending bar tender or server.

Alternatively, the selected visual indicia may operate to convey information pertaining to the contents of the container, for example, the date of purchase, the date the container was first opened, the volume of the contents of the container either consumed or remaining, or the concentration of a solute or solvent contained within the container. However, it should be appreciated that the selected visual indicia may be used to convey any other communication, for example, “I Love You”, “Interested”, “Not Interested”, “Finished”, etc.

FIG. 9 shows an enlarged view of the container label after a pair of scratch-off layers 112b′, 112e″ have been removed by a user of the container, thus displaying members of the first plurality of visual indicia 111b′, 111e″ positioned thereunder.

Referring to FIG. 10, a separate embodiment of this invention has an alternate second plurality of visual indicia 114a′-114e′ and 114a′-114e″ printed in spatial alignment with each of the scratch off layers 112a′-112e′ and 112a″-112e″ (all but 112b′ and 112e″ are shown in FIG. 10). When a user of the label scratches off one or more of the scratch-off layers 112a′-112e′ and 112a″-112e″ a unique visual communication is provided. In this embodiment, it is not necessary that the first plurality of visual indicia be present, as the removal of the scratch-off layers 112a-112e and 112a″-112e″ in itself is sufficient to convey a unique visual communication.

In this alternative embodiment, the unique visual communication may operate to convey any of the aforementioned communications of the preferred embodiment.

FIGS. 11 and 12 illustrate an alternate container label in accordance with this invention. The container label is formed from a material sheet 115 having a plurality of fingers 116a, 116b, 116c . . . etc. along one or more of the material sheet's outer edges (117, 118, 119, 120). The fingers 116a, 116b, 116c . . . etc. are detachable from the material sheet 115 by tearing them away along points of attachment 121. The fingers may be of varying shape and design. In this embodiment, the points of attachment 121 preferably comprise score lines 122 to weaken the fingers 116a, 116b, 116c . . . etc. for removal from the material sheet 115. Alternatively, the points of attachment 122 may have a thinned wall or a perforated line to weaken the fingers 116a, 116b, 116c . . . etc. for removal from the material sheet 115.

Additionally, the adhesive attaching the container label to a container may be applied minimally, or not at all, to the fingers 116a, 116b, 116c . . . etc., to thus weaken the fingers for removal from the material sheet 115. Disposed alongside the fingers 116a, 116b, 116c . . . etc. are a plurality of visual indicia 123a, 123b, 123c . . . etc. comprised of the 26 letters of the alphabet and the word phrase “more drink” 123aa. Alternatively, the plurality of visual indicia may be comprised of letters, numbers, words, names, symbols or other graphic representation. The plurality of visual 123a, 123b, 123c . . . etc. are aligned in parallel with said fingers 116a, 116b, 116c . . . etc. When a user of the container label removes one or more of the fingers 116a, 116b, 116c . . . etc., a unique visual communication is provided.

In this alternate embodiment, the unique visual communication may operate to convey the first letter of the name and surname of the user of the container, thus distinguishing the container from other like containers, or it may signal the user's desire for another container having the same contents to an attending bar tender or server.

Alternatively, the visual communication selected may comprise any combination of the following: letters, numbers, words, names, symbols or other graphic representation. The visual combination may be used to convey the identity of the user of the container.

Alternatively, the visual combination may convey information pertaining to the contents of the container, for example, the date of purchase, the date the container was first opened, the volume of the contents of the container either consumed or remaining, or the concentration of a solute or solvent contained within the container. However, it should be appreciated that the visual combination may be used to convey any other visual signal, for example, holiday symbols, cartoon caricatures, “I Love You”, “Interested”, “Not Interested”, “Finished”, etc.

While the forms of apparatus described herein, and methods related thereto, constitute preferred embodiments of the invention, it should be appreciated that this in no way limits the scope of the invention as described in the appended claims.

Claims

1. A method for identifying the owner of a beverage container, the method comprising the steps of:

providing a beverage container;
providing a label on said beverage container;
providing a plurality of opaque scratch-off layers on said label;
providing a first plurality of visual indicia beneath said scratch-off layers;
providing a second plurality of visual indicia atop said scratch-off layers, each of said first plurality of visual indicia positioned below one of said second plurality of visual indicia and being substantially similar to said one of said second plurality of visual indicia;
removing at least one of said scratch-off layers;
establishing a combination of said first plurality of visual indicia below said at least one removed scratch off layers; and
identifying the user of the beverage container through said combination of said first plurality of visual indicia.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein said first plurality of visual indicia and said second plurality of visual indicia comprise first and second sets of letters, said removing step including removing scratch-off layers associated with said first and second sets of letters representing the initials of the name of the user of said container, and said identifying step including associating the user of said container with said initials.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein said first plurality of visual indicia and said second plurality of visual indicia comprise a matched set of corresponding images, said removing step including removing a select combination of said scratch-off layers associated with said matched set of corresponding images, and said identifying step including associating the user of said container with said select combination.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein said first plurality of visual indicia and said second plurality of visual indicia comprise a matched set of corresponding words, said removing step including removing a select combination of said scratch-off layers associated with said matched set of corresponding words, and said identifying step including associating the user of said container with said select combination.

5. The method of claim 1, wherein said first plurality of visual indicia and said second plurality of visual indicia comprise a matched set of corresponding characters, said removing step including removing a select combination of said scratch-off layers associated with said matched set of corresponding characters, and said identifying step including associating the user of said container with said select combination.

6. An apparatus in combination with a beverage container for signaling the identity of the owner of the beverage container, said apparatus comprising:

a container label formed from a material sheet, said sheet affixed to the beverage container;
a first plurality of visual indicia disposed in a series along said sheet;
a plurality of substantially opaque non-water soluble scratch-off layers disposed atop said first plurality of visual indicia, each of said layers being spatially distinguished from the other said layers; and
a second plurality of visual indicia visually distinguishable from said first plurality of visual indicia and visible prior to removal of said scratch-off layers, each of the second plurality of visual indicia aligned above one of the first plurality of visual indicia, the aligned first and second visual indicia being substantially similar, wherein the removal of at least one of said scratch-off layers reveals at least one of said first plurality of visual indicia configured to signal the identity of the owner of the beverage container.

7. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein said second plurality of visual indicia are disposed atop said plurality of scratch-off layers.

8. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein said second plurality of visual indicia are positioned adjacent to and in parallel relation with said plurality of scratch-off layers.

9. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein each of said first plurality of visual indicia comprises at least one color distinguishable from a color of said material sheet.

10. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein said first plurality of visual indicia comprises a plurality of images.

11. The apparatus of claim 10, wherein said second plurality of visual indicia comprises a plurality of images.

12. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein said first and second plurality of visual indicia comprise associated first and second sets of letters for signaling the identity of the owner of the container.

13. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein said second plurality of visual indicia comprise a set of letters for signaling the identity of the owner of the container.

14. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein said second plurality of visual indicia are spatially aligned and unique to their respective scratch-off layers.

15. An apparatus in combination with a beverage container for conveying an order for another beverage container, the apparatus comprising:

a container label including a material sheet affixed to the beverage container;
a first visual indicia supported on the sheet and indicating an order for another beverage container;
a substantially opaque non-water soluble scratch-off layer disposed atop the first visual request indicia;
a second visual indicia aligned above the first visual indicia, the second visual indicia being substantially similar to, and visually distinguishable from, the first visual indicia, the second visual indicia being visible prior to removal of the scratch-off layer; and
wherein removing the scratch-off layer reveals the first visual indicia for conveying a signal ordering another beverage container.

16. The apparatus of claim 15, wherein said first and second visual indicia are comprised of corresponding words.

17. The apparatus of claim 15, wherein said visual indicia are comprised of corresponding images.

18. The apparatus of claim 15, wherein said visual indicia are comprised of corresponding characters.

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Patent History

Patent number: 7987621
Type: Grant
Filed: Nov 16, 2009
Date of Patent: Aug 2, 2011
Patent Publication Number: 20100058630
Inventor: Brian K. Elias (Springboro, OH)
Primary Examiner: Joanne Silbermann
Assistant Examiner: Syed A Islam
Attorney: Baker & Daniels LLP
Application Number: 12/619,347